The idea that travelling the world has to be expensive is a myth. When done carefully, it’s absolutely possible to see the world without spending a fortune, which is good news for those of us who stick carefully to a budget every month. Saving for an international trip can take some time, but knowing that it’s possible to have great experiences on a low-budget trip is helpful.
Budget travel requires forfeiting some luxuries and conveniences, but it’s made up for in authentic experiences. You won’t be flying first class (in fact, you might be flying in a smaller than average seat on one of those budget airlines that would charge you for a beverage), you won’t be staying in a luxury hotel and eating at the finest dining establishments, but you will get an authentic look at a beautiful culture and get the privilege of engaging with its people on a more intimate level. These experiences are priceless.
Cutting Back Can Mean Authenticity
When travelling, it can be argued that the more you spend, the less authentic your experience within the culture will be. Spending more money, especially in a foreign country, will mean you’re staying in nicer hotels in nicer parts of the city, away from where the local people live and work. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but one of the best parts of travelling is the opportunity to engage in a new culture. Travelling on a budget means you are likely going to be able to engage with the people and culture on a much deeper level.
While there’s nothing wrong with hitting up major tourist attractions and landmarks when you visit somewhere new, don’t spend all your time where the tourists flock. Strike up a conversation with someone on public transportation or at a restaurant and ask them where they’d recommend you go for an authentic cultural experience. Talking to people and getting to know why where they live is special to them will often lead to far richer experiences than Googling “things to do in ___.”
Engage With Locals
The best advice for eating in a new culture is to look for where the locals are eating and order whatever they’re having. Getting away from popular tourist areas to eat is a great practice when travelling. Not only will you be able to find more authentic (and often more delicious) food, but it will likely come at a much lower price. If you aren’t sure what exactly you ordered for lunch, that’s okay. Sometimes it’s better not to know.
Save With Hostels
If you’re travelling alone or with friends, hostels are probably the most affordable lodging option. A hostel dorm bed can sometimes costs as little as under $10 a night. While you have less privacy, you have more money to spend on other things than a mattress, pillow, and shower. Airbnbs are often very affordable in other countries as well, which is a great option for couples who would like a little more privacy or travelers who want a comfortable place to spread out and call home during their stay. You can also rent a room in a local person’s house, which is another fantastic way to intimately engage with a new group of people and understand their culture on a much deeper level.
Travelling can really cost as much or as little as you’d like, to an extent. It’s important to remember that no matter where you go, there is a unique culture full of beautiful people who all have a story. Spending less money on your travel and intentionally spending your time truly engaged with the culture will provide an experience of a lifetime with limited expense.